There is a tendency for newly installed presidents, like adolescents suddenly liberated from adult supervision, to do the exact opposite of what their predecessors did. Presidents of both parties indulge in this behavior, though Democrats who campaign as candidates of hope and change are more likely to do so.
Some of this is a legitimate response to the political process: Voters tend to elect presidents who seem to possess qualities and views they thought lacking in their predecessors. But some of it, and especially in the case of Barack Obama, seems to come from an adolescentlike confidence that everything done by those who came before is (insert your own generation’s expletive here).
The other example of adolescent rejection of a policy has come on missile defense. Back in the 1970s and 1980s Democratic politicians opposed missile defense on the grounds — mistaken in my view, but arguable at the time — that it would destabilize the balance of nuclear terror between the United States and the Soviet Union. Democrats have clung to that position even after the fall of the Soviet Union and Obama, as a senator and presidential candidate, joined them, routinely expressing doubts that missile defense could ever work.
As president, he has singled out missile defense for cuts, even in the face of missile launches by North Korea and evidence of continuing missile development by Iran. Bush abrogated the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty and pushed ahead on missile defense, so it must be bad even if there’s no U.S.-Soviet balance of terror to destabilize any more.
How many days until Jan. 20, 2013? Can we hang on that long?